July 23, 2021|
Are Brands Being Prematurely Optimistic?
If you look at almost any marketing news over the last few months, you’ll see a ton of headlines about brands anticipating the “post-pandemic” summer. Examples include:
· Extra channeling Celine Dion
· Bud Light’s “Summer Stimmy” campaign
· Grey Goose focusing on sensation
The list goes on and on. On top of that, you’ll see a bunch of headlines that talk about how digital ad spend is going up, up, up. Facebook, Google, and Amazon are riding the wave. Yet other headlines tell us about how we should prep for “pent-up consumer demand.”
Yet … there’s a weird tension here. I’m looking at all these headlines and seeing this optimism, but I don’t feeloptimistic myself. In fact, seeing all this “yay, it’s over!” attitude is … making me nervous. Shopper behaviour changed and the media’s #1 or #2 highlight is still new cases, number of vaccinations, creating a divisive culture on people shaming people for independent decision making, cases climbing in countries where winter may be our summer, and the big pharma companies already declaring the need for vaccine boosters to stay safe. Feels like a perfect recipe to keep everyone insecure!
I don’t think I’m the only one here, and I think brands need to pay attention to their messaging.
Brands Seem to Have Declared This the Post-Pandemic Summer
I mean, it kind of makes sense, especially if you look at the US right now. All you had to do is see the Stanley Cup Finals and the filled stands without masks and…well life is back to normal. States have lifted their restrictions. The people that wanted to be vaccinated have already been fully vaccinated.
In Canada, we are a mixed bag of restrictions and definition of freedom and that shaky feeling that we can’t get too comfortable or the restaurants and stores may close again. The surges are being fueled by the variants, which is the normal course of the life of a virus.
The situation that continues to be unfolding in India and Brazil is sad, tragedy on an enormous scale. Variants will continue to arrive in Canada as the planes continue to fly. Virologists advise that it takes 10 years to understand the nature of a virus and produce a vaccine that is safe for subsegments of the population. Viruses naturally dissipate in the summer months, only to become a problem again in the fall when we return indoors.
The Urge to Celebrate
It’s been a long 18+ months, and the fear and uncertainty, and for many people despair, have worn us out. It’s understandable that with even a glimmer of hope, people are feeling the urge to celebrate. I know that I have been on a few patios enjoying having a glass poured. We are seeing many social media posts where this summer is shaping up to be “lit.” The predictions about “pent-up consumer demand” aren’t really wrong. People are itching for events, experiences, to see friends and family. In short, they are going to do things, and they are going to spend money and feel more in control of their lives and happiness.
Pay Attention to Your Customers
The one thing brands need to watch out for here is ignoring customer hesitancy. Yes, there is pent-up demand. But there are also very real behavioural changes that have fallen out of the last 18 months. People may want to go wild but likely wild-with hesitation. They want to feel normal, but the reason to be fearful is still present in the masks that are still being worn.
And people travelling into smaller cottage country communities, and being met by people who feel hesitant, especially when the news is such a mixed bag still. Restaurants still tracking who we are and our contact info. All reminders that we are being asked to keep our distance longer.
Keep Testing the Waters and Adjust Messaging Accordingly
If the media begins to change messaging around vaccines, new incidences, adverse reactions to getting a vaccine, WHO daily changing warnings….likely people will get bolder and bolder.
I mean, look at me. I was done with the pandemic months ago. I’m sick of talking about it, but here we are. I cannot wait to get by this, to put it behind us and talk about something else. But I’m not feeling joy or a sense of freedom when I look at all these headlines. I’m not feeling like celebrating with utter abandon like these brands want me to. It’s making me nervous and uncomfortable.
I guess I am suggesting brands should not ignore their customers and how they feel. And quant data will not give you the subtilties you are seeking. You need to talk to your consumer!
Celebrating the end of a pandemic that hasn’t ended yet jumps the gun a bit. The end seems like it’s coming, but we need to hang tight on this kind of “wild party” messaging. Many of our customers will thank us for it.
We should always be thinking our messages through. What we say to our customers matters, so we want to be sure we’re hitting the right notes, whether now or in the future. And to get there, we need to start with the why!
A little more about me. My goal is and always will be to inspire and create conversation!
I am a businessperson who has excelled in driving a competitive edge through marketing, strategy, innovation, building irresistible brands and unlocking the genius that exists. I am writing to inspire or create new consideration. If you have ideas or questions that you would like me to put a pen too, I would be delighted.
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